Family vows to teach others life-saving practices after woman dies of nut allergy
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, September 12, 2018 8:38PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 12, 2018 8:54PM EDT
The family of a woman who died of a nut allergy is urging food companies to be clearer with their labelling while raising awareness of life-saving practices.
Joanna Salmingo, 30, was sharing a dessert with her mother on Aug. 8 when she went into anaphylactic shock.
Her brother Joey Salmingo, told CTV News Toronto that his sister went upstairs to her room for about five minutes after consuming the treat.
“After those few minutes she came down those stairs, stumbling down the stairs, gasping for air, just saying ‘mom, mom,’” he said. “She eventually suffocated and passed out on the floor and then her pulse was undetectable, so my mom started CPR right away.”
Joanna Salmingo’s mother, who is a nurse, performed chest compressions until paramedics arrived.
“I may have actually done CPR on my patients probably about five or six times. This time, this is my daughter. My maternal instinct was telling me to just be calm and go into your nursing instinct so you can save your daughter,” she said. “I tried to do as much as I could until help came.”
Her brother said he believes his sister was without oxygen to her body for 17 to 25 minutes or so. She was taken to the hospital by paramedics where she remained in the Intensive Care Unit for 17 days. She was eventually declared clinically brain dead from lack of oxygen.
Mochi, the food item that was purchased from a Whole Foods in Markham, is usually made of glutinous rice. The store uses a label that warns “we cannot guarantee that our items are free of trace amounts of peanuts or other allergens,” but the family said it wasn’t clear enough that the vegan options were made with nut products.
“The first ingredient in the vegan flavours is cashew milk, so the may-contain sticker is completely irrelevant,” Joey Salmingo said.
The family has spoken with the global foods safety leader with Whole Foods and said they want to work with the corporation to improve food labeling practices.
The Salmingo family has also vowed to try and prevent similar tragedies by launching the Food Allergy Training an Education (F.A.T.E.) Initiative, an educational summit on the severity of food-related allergies.
The summit will include research presented by medical professionals as well as epinephrine injection training and life-saving tactics.
“People need to be, including restaurants and public venues, they need to be cognizant of cross contamination and food displays and labelling,” her brother said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help fund the F.A.T.E. Initiative.
-With files from CTV News Toronto's Tracy Tong